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The Importance of the Mānasāra


Speculation on the Architectonic of P.K. Acharya's Rendering.

The styles and the forms developed by P.K. Acharya in the Illustrations of Architectural and Sculptural Objects (5) may be viably taken up in support of the  Mānasāra in the obvious and simple sense that they are undeniably Indian. By deep — between the lines — understanding of what is in the Mānasāra, reinforced by deductive method, these forms can be validated in their historical association through names, proportioning and arrangement of basic geometries — but this is not enough to fully constitute style-forms in P.K. Acharya’s volume of illustrations (5:). Thus it is necessary to use extant architecture of the past to fill in the details. Vitrvius provided detailed written outlines for the drawing and sculpting of the forms of the elements within his De Architectura libri decem whereby that is not present in the Mānasāra. The attempt to provide a more complete treatise by including such details, although in principle reasonable, did not prove successful. The essence of the architecture of the Mānasāra is nonetheless borne by the built tradition, but the built traditions have no claim on exclusivity. When that tradition is assumed to be definitive, it makes the implicit knowledge of essence evasive.

The need is not to open up research for the development of arguments proving a link between built tradition and the knowledge of essence. It is enough to note that what is transmitted in the Mānasāra can not uniquely need the forms presented in Illustrations of Architectural and Sculptural Objects (5) by P.K. Acharya for its expression. A style or form is only one expression of a palette of infinite opportunity. Hindu, Jain or Buddhist, and  traditional non-Islamic architecture, is not the only way to presence the Mānasāra, which is after all human

Vignette of Drawing from PK Acharya's Mānasāra Vignette from PK Achary's Mānasāra

P.K. Acharya’s Intent for the Swastika Mansion
P.K. Acharya was very fortunate to attain the opportunity to realize a building to presence the Mānasāra as experiment to provide evidence of Hindu architectural tradition tied with our contemporary needs, and in support of the Mānasāra. The failure of the Swastika Mansion (6:xv-xxv, Plates II-XI, XXVIII, XXXII) to influence architecture in India in a significant way, and that the Mānasāra’s translation is not widely accepted for modern architectural usage, is in large part due to the  use of those traditional architectural forms as the exclusive expression of the Mānasāra for  the contemporary architect, as discussed above. Although, the Swastika Mansion, as it was named due to its geometric basis (6:xv), is not a socio-cultural nor an architectural professional success story, it may be successfully engaged as an artifact of evidence for P.K. Acharya’s approach via the prefaces of the various volumes he produced and the  textual ‘ambiguities’ he recognized and which we propose to use.

At issue is primarily the selection of types of form with the “hall marks” of ancient architecture by “free choice”, which may be “pleasing and fulfill the tendency of modern times” (6:xx). These may not have any meaning. Is the Mānasāra presenced with this manner of “free choice”? Not likely. P.K. Acharya expressed that the design of the form and its ornamental design is easier than deriving construction technology in harmony with the Mānasāra. But can the ancient traditional and prescribed forms of the Mānasāra, reduced “mostly in lines” (6:xx) be presenced via the base geometry of the building only?17 May contemporary technological elements of concrete and steel replace stone slabs and wood (plastered over to appear similar) to serve utility, stability and beauty18 function to presence the Mānasāra? Are “devices” of modern construction which “serve the real purpose of the ancient architecture19 legitimate? (6:xxi, italics P.K. Acharya) His is a logic adheres to modern materialist requirements and expectations, but it remains irrational in ignoring — even abolishing! — the basis of the ‘more original’ essence of the Mānasāra.

As with the P.K. Acharya’s rendering of the Mānasāra, the Svastika Mansion serves its purpose as a step toward bringing the knowledge of essence in the vāstuvidya as borne in the Mānasāra into our times. The Svastika Mansion serves us with the questions and blanks presented by the ambiguities isolated by P.K. Acharya, and these draw us in.
  It takes the form of current architectural practice that presence architecture as the provision for its absence. The Svastika Mansion does stand as an opportunity in an ongoing project.

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16. The Mānasāra lists 47 kinds of mouldings and
64 varieties of base in 19 groupings alone. These each have
names, which are evocative of intent and place, (2:127-128). A few of these are named in the illustrations (5:XXVII). Choosing from these will provide most architects with vast homework unless traditional assumptions are copied to drastically reduce the options. However, incorrect selections will result in an incorrectly presenced architecture. It can not be lightly dealt with as admonishments at the end of many chapters tell us,
e.g.. (4:55-56).

17. In Latin: firmitas, utilitas, venusitas.
18. These three attributes are not expressed in the
 Mānasāra but in Vitruvius’ work.
michael@karassowitsch.ca 2013